Category Archives: Ottawa

“On the House” by Rob Walsh

In a year of living politically, it challenges me to read more so I know and understand more. The first challenge was to learn about what my political reality really is. As a ‘staffer’ on Parliament Hill I had knowledge of the happening of the activities of how Parliament Hill “works. What I needed was an understanding of why it works the way it does and the historical and constitutional contexts that Canada is governed by.

It could be a book for dreamers, those that dream of becoming an elected Member ofOn the House Parliament. At least by reading the book before making the decision to run, it could weed out a few who might be considering a ‘run’ when the weight of the position is understood.

On the House is written by Rob Walsh, who had a 20-year career as a Law Clerk working with Members of Parliament and their staff on Parliamentary procedure and regulations. On the House introduces the players that support MP’s and staff and also reveals a few secrets that take the mystery out of the daily procedures that rule all that are allowed to be in the House of Commons.

The book arrived at a time when there were ethical questions raised by members on the activities of the government. On the House covers the everyday activities of from the moment a newly elected MP arrives in Ottawa to set up an office, attending Member “school” and to be sworn in, all this to be done before setting one foot into the House of Commons.

Beyond the first steps following an election, On the House, takes the reader (and the new MP) through an exercise of understanding how our constitution was developed going back to before the Magna Carta and the development of the separation of the Crown and Parliament in the United Kingdom.   What follows through in the pages is an evolution of ‘privilege’, ‘ethics’, tradition where much of the work of governing take place. Walsh takes us into committee rooms, into the law clerks office and of course into the House of Commons as he explains how the procedures, with even the smallest alteration would have an large impact.

In light of what has been making recent headlines, the sections on ethics and parliamentary privilege are of particular interest. I should note here that skipping ahead to read these chapters should not be encouraged; having the constitutional context of privilege is needed to know that Canada is governed by history as much as it is by a changing political and social landscape.

The idea of Parliamentary privilege might seem unlawful to Canadians, protecting our elected officials from what is said in ‘the House’ and on Committee? Walsh does a good job to explain why the privilege exists and where it comes from. While privilege exists in the House and in Committee, it does not outside of these, hence the reason you’ll hear requests to have something said in privilege repeated outside the doors of the house (which are used as the cover of On the House).

Through case histories, parliamentary debates and parliamentary procedures outside of the House of Commons Walsh give the reader the experience that even though there are flaws, our form of government that was first set out in the British North America Act of 1867 works. Walsh also uses cases of law that defend the privilege that MP’s enjoy. While Walsh worked to defend many of Parliaments privileges – he does disagree with a few and puts his case forward – but history more than often not wins out and unwritten laws or traditions of privilege remain in place.

It might seem that On the House is a book for the Ottawa bubble, but the reality is that Walsh has provided Canadians with a “how to book” for comprehending how our government and the opposition how each play their roles.  There is legalese to navigate, but would you expect anything else considering the topic? Walsh’s view as Parliamentary Council on our Parliament is unique and one that should be read and shared.

On the House is available through McGill Queens University Press.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

Advertisements

My Best of 2017: The Best of #RedHeartBlueSign

 

This year I have written over 60 posts, this is post number 199 on #RedHeartBlueSign since October 2010.

thank youOver the past 12 months I can say I am happy with each post, though some I have greater pride in writing. The five posts below represent what gave me the greatest pride. Each has its own beginning, that being, what was the motivation for me to write and post each of them.  Thank you for taking the time today and throughout 2017 to read #RedHeartBlueSign.

The Battle for Vanier (November 2017)

The city of Ottawa had two big battles with its residents this year. The first was the relocation of the downtown/main branch of the Ottawa Public Library; the second was a proposal from the Salvation Army to vacate its Byward Market building for brand new building on Montreal Road in Vanier that would house almost all it services under one roof, include approximately 350 beds (some long term and some emergency shelter beds. The response from the community was SOS Vanier, a well coordinated effort of raising the community’s opposition to a plan that goes opposite of the city plans. The big battle was strictly a fight between building use and land use – two very different concepts.

This was my most widely read post of the year, if you haven’t already you can click here to read it: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/the-battle-of-vanier-land-use-vs-building-use

Choose your healthcare cycle (September 2017)

The healthcare system in Ontario and across Canada is at a crossroads. Also at a critical point is the population of Canadians as the Baby Boomer Generation retires and the Boomers’ children and grandchildren are going to be relied upon to work and fund pension programs and healthcare needs for seniors. The point of the post was to emphasize the need for each generation to support the healthcare they need now, through fundraising, radio-thons and telethons and not necessarily the care that was used in the past. More and more provincial budgets will spend more on healthcare that all other departments combined. Hospitals and healthcare organizations count more on donations from the public to close the gaps left from reduced government funding.

My thoughts about this are here for you to read: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/choose-your-healthcare-life-cycle

When did it become legal to do illegal things (October 2017)

The line between helping others and protecting property is a thin one and easily causes words and sometimes actions that have a ripple effect. At the heart of this post was the opinion that the City of Ottawa was not acting fast enough to help stop the opioid crisis and prevent needless deaths. What been approved was a safe injection site in Sandy Hill, but was not ready yet, so Opioid Prevention Ottawa (OPO) set up a tent without approval and permits in a neighbourhood park where children and families played – they refused to close up and not many in City Hall would force the closure including the Police who said they were waiting for the city to tell them to shut it down. I wanted to include the a bit about the illegal Pot Shops that are opening up ahead of the legalization of marijuana but if I had I would have had to leave too much out of the OPO story.

To read all about OPO and the fight for safe neighbourhood and the fight to save lives from overdose clink on this link: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/when-did-it-become-legal-to-do-illegal-things

Confessions of a casual commuter cyclist (August 2017)

2017 was the summer that I became a cycling commuter, taking my bike to work almost everyday. I have to say I got my money’s worth in the spring tune-up. I wrote about my experiences on two wheels, observing not only other cyclists and pedestrians but also drivers of cars and trucks. I had one close call, but I transferred my defensive skills to my bike and stayed safe. I have to say though that cycling defensively is not as well received by other cyclists,

Read my Confessions of a casual commuter cyclist here: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/confessions-of-a-casual-commuter-cyclist

836,484 (December 2017)

This post came about from big news on two fronts. First was that the Toronto Star and the National Post were ‘flipping ownership on a large number of small local newspapers and few free daily papers (Metro and 24 hours). The other show dropped when 40+ of these papers were being told that they were closing, a few on the same day that the announcement was made. The largest of the local papers affected was the Barrie Examiner, which has been in operation longer than the British North America Act has been in force. All told I estimated that almost 840,000 Canadians lost a newspaper in one day. Since the day the presses stopped, many independent local papers have spoken loudly to reinforce the fact that local newspapers are still printing and distributing news.

Read 836,484 here: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/836484

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

836,484

836,484 – that is the estimate of newspaper readers who lost a newspaper when The Toronto Star and Postmedia ‘swapped’ 41 newspapers this week. It was like a NHL blockbuster and right after the trade, one of the teams involved would fold and no longer field a team on the ice.

StopThePresses

Like a hockey fan that would mourn the loss of their team, these readers mourn the loss of their newspaper.

I came to the number of 836,484 by using numbers from News Media Canada (https://nmc-mic.ca/about-newspapers/circulation/daily-newspapers/) from Metroland Newspapers and searching websites of affected newspapers that would give distribution and circulation numbers. Of the 836,484 readers affected, approximately 500,000 belong to Ontario communities that will see a daily or weekly paper shutdown.

836,484 is an estimate, it may be more and it may be less, but still it is a large number. Put this into another context, the City of Ottawa has 900,000 residents. One day the residents of Ottawa have a printed source of news and then the next day they don’t. Where would residents go to get local news? Not only would there be no paper delivered to their door, but for the most part there would be no news available online.

This is what will happen, and has happened as a result of the trade made between Postmedia and Torstar November 27th, almost 300 people will lose their jobs because of this trade.

Lost are free daily newspapers in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Toronto and Vancouver. Weekly Community newspapers across Ontario will also close. Smaller cities will lose daily newspapers. The largest of the small papers to close is The Barrie Examiner, founded in 1864, it pre-dates confederation. Almost 45,000 residents will no longer have the Examiner at their doorstep. It ceased publication the day of the announcement. In a year when we are celebrating Canada150, a 153 year old newspaper closes.

For the City of Ottawa, the concern faced by the City itself is the distribution of information to residents. Scott Moffat, Councillor for the ward of Rideau-Goulbourn in the south end of the city put into words how the closure of the local paper The Stittsville News will affect his ability to communicate import City and Ward (http://www.rideaugoulbourn.ca/news/sadnewsforthestittsvillenews). Moffat talks about changes he needs to make on how he’ll tell his residents about City and Ward services.

Overnight the City of Ottawa lost a way to inform about 100,000 residents through the distribution of local weekly papers about meetings, development and planning notices and budgets. The City of Ottawa will have to address this. How can this information be widely available without relying exclusively on emails, web notices and the use of social media? For many, there is nothing easier than flipping through a paper to the page that has city notifications. I regularly use the City of Ottawa website for information, but that in itself is more often than not a frustrating experience if the right keywords are not used.

A larger effect will be seen in communities where Councillors, MPs and MPPs used the local papers to write about important issues on a weekly or monthly basis. I doubt that larger newspapers like Hamilton Spectator, Toronto Star or the Ottawa Citizen will give space to local elected representatives.

The news of the closures does not mean local community newspapers are dead. There are still several in my community I will receive; The Centretown Buzz and the Centretown News are two I read. Others in the Ottawa area are still operating, successfully. While the larger owners close local papers, will locally owned papers be the future, as it has been in the past? Who will be the next entrepreneur that will see a need as Alex Munter did at the age14 who created the Kanata Kourier from his basement? The Kanata Kourier-Standard will close in January; with it about 25,000 people will not have that paper delivered to their front door anymore.

836,484 readers, that’s the number this week, sadly millions before this week saw their papers close and more will close in 2018 and beyond.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

The Battle of Vanier: Land use vs. Building Use

21728878_10155836666179924_314559902443611242_o
Out of the most divisive issues comes unity.

Last week saw an unprecedented Planning Committee meeting, it lasted three days and on the third day the meeting it went late into the evening. At stake was either safe shelter for 350 or the future of Vanier and its financial growth. The heart of the matter revolved around the Salvation Army relocating to Montreal Rd in Vanier from their George Street location in the Byward Market.

In what has become a war of words over the future of Vanier, the Battle of Vanier is clearly between two ideals; land use versus building use. City staff is on the land use side while Rideau Vanier Mathieu Fleury is arguing the building use will have severe impacts on Vanier.

In the middle of summer the Salvation Army filed a proposal to build a new large 350 bed facility that would locate all its services in one location (the current Concord Hotel) on Montreal Rd, which is classified a “mainstreet” by the city’s official plan. Ottawa now prohibits shelters on its mainstreets. Mainstreets by definition are meant for commerce and community gathering and keeping people moving. For the Salvation Army, the official plan will need to be amended.

It gets confusing and bewildering because City staff support a proposal that clearly goes against the Official City Plan, which City Staff had a huge hand in writing. With its support, planning staff is saying that the needed amendment ‘won’t be a problem at all’.

If you have trouble understanding how the mainstreet argument works consider other Mainstreet and “Main” street locations across Ottawa as examples. How about a large shelter on Strandherd Drive in Barrhaven, or on Meadowlands Drive in Keith Egli’s ward. Try selling a huge 300-bed shelter to Stittsville residents on Hazeldean Drive and I doubt anyone would allow a shelter beside a shiny condo on Richmond Road or even putting a shelter at the corner of Bank and Somerset downtown instead of rebuilding Somerset House.

21728936_10155836665524924_8730297377643678157_o

Photos courtesy of Danno Saunt (Sideman Ottawa)

There was another aspect in the Battle of Vanier, one which could have been avoided – The Mayor. The ink on the proposal was barely dry when Mayor Jim Watson came out in support of the Salvation Army’s plans. He voiced his support before the proposal was looked at by staff, was debated at Planning Committee, before residents could have a say and before the full Council vote. The Mayor holds great sway in council. He’ll try to tell he is one of 24 votes, honestly though, his “yeah or nay” will sway about a quarter of council seats. Coming out early on this forced Councillor Fleury to publically fight against the Mayor and most of council.

Whether the Mayor intentionally or accidently played his cards, he should have stayed quiet. I expect that he will lose votes in the fall, as SOS Vanier will make sure Rideau Vanier voters don’t forget who supported them and that the Mayor did not. By stating his support early in the process, the Mayor muted Councillor Fleury and virtually snubbed the 100+ residents and businesses that went to committee and stated their reasons for objecting to the proposal.

Clearly the Salvation Army did not expect such uproar. They almost admitted it, but could not find the right words when the Salvation Army spokesperson appeared on CBC Radio Ottawa Morning after the Council vote of 23-7 (Rick Chiarelli claimed a conflict). They admitted they had a lot of fence mending to do, but could not commit to saying they did not know the community well enough to foresee the outrage against the plans.

It was clear from the moment that SOS Vanier was formed by Vanier business owner Drew Dobson that who ever came up short in the vote at council would be appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board. Depending on the OMB outcome there could a lawsuit, which all means that it could be years before the wrecking ball comes down on the Concord Motel, which sits on the proposed Salvation Army building.

Speaking of the Concord Motel, there is a complication. The City of Ottawa is very tight for space for families that need emergency shelter, for days weeks or months. Guess where some families are put up, paid for by the City of Ottawa? The Concord Motel. Where will the City find the rooms lost with the demo of the Concord for the families that need the space? Good Question. The City better home the new Federal National Housing Plan works, and fast!

There is some good that comes out of the Battle of Vanier. The community has come together, again. The last time that happened was with the proposed closure of the Montfort Hospital. The Ontario government stood down from that because the community banded together. The Salvation Army shelter plan was the spark that brought Vanier back to its feet; I hope they don’t underestimate the community as Mike Harris did. SOS Vanier is here for a while and plan on keeping this issue alive.

Secondly, Councillor Fleury stood on his head defended his residents; I have not seen a councillor do that in some time. It was an “All-Star Performance” in the defense of Vanier and preserving Montreal Road. At worst he has almost secured a re-election with his efforts to protect his community with something he saw as being a bad fit.

The leaders of SOS Vanier have publically declared they will appeal the decision at the OMB, the Battle was won – the war wages on.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

Is it too soon to talk Municipal Elections in Ottawa?

Ottawa VotesHere it is November, we are almost at the end of Ottawa’s run where all things #Canada150 overshadowed what was being talked at in City Hall. With the end of 2018 we’ll see the dismantling of the #Canada150 Flame at City Hall and business of the City come more into focus.

There are serious items that will linger through to the Municipal elections in Ottawa in 11 months.

Mayor Jim Watson has campaigned on 2% or less for property tax increases. The problem with 2% property tax increases is that everything else has increased almost triple the rate of property taxes. Water fees, sewage fees all increased and are budgeted for large increases through the next five years as the City looks for revenues it can’t raise with a 2% property tax rise.

Watson’s rationale is not that different from Provincial and Federal Liberals that are “lowering” income taxes, but increases other necessary costs, like Hydro negate any reduction in taxes because any gain in disposable incomes is lost on higher hydro rates and carbon taxes put on the cost of gas at the pumps.   But Jim Watson will campaign on low property taxes and avoid any talk of higher water, sewage and user fees.

What will dog Watson are his views on safe injection sites and funding illegal pop up site. The safe injection site in Sandy Hill was given the federal go ahead, but that did not stop an unauthorized pop up site from appearing in a Lowertown park. This prompted the Ottawa Health Officer to opening a ‘legal’ temporary site on Clarence Street.   The illegal pop up site continues to operate even though its original mandate was to have a permanent site available to prevent deaths by overdose.

The irony here is that ‘conservative’ Mayor John Tory in Toronto is looking more progressive that ‘liberal’ Mayor Jim Watson in Ottawa. There will be calls for the City and the Mayor to accept money from the Province the same money Kathleen Wynne gave Toronto for its pop up site to be able to operate in the cold.

I also expect to see Jim Watson try to ride the shiny sparkly new LRT to another 4 years at City Hall. He better hope that it goes as planned, that sinkholes don’t create any unseen drops in his popularity. He is no doubt still very popular, but with urban councillors like Catherine MacKenney (Somerset Ward) and Jeff Leiper (Kitchissippi Ward) pushing a more progressive agenda, those councillors and perhaps others that want to see the City spend more on social services will look past Jim Watson for support. Sadly we may not see just who will challenge Watson for a few more months.

There were changes to municipal election for 2018. In previous election cycles candidates could register to run in the early weeks of the year. New rules now put any registering for the election at May 1st, four full months before in previous elections. This rule puts incumbents in the fundraising driver seat, as there can be no fundraising for a campaign before the candidate in registered. With the delayed registration date, incumbents no longer have to stress about announcing early.

The change in registration date will have a serious impact on challengers hoping to put up a strong effort against an incumbent. Losing four months of fundraising will drive some away from the challenge. The biggest financial impact may be on those that want to run for the Mayor’s chair.

In play for what could be tight race for Mayor are Bay Ward Councillors Mark Taylor, Diane Deans and former Ottawa Centre MP, and son of former Mayor Marion Dewar, Pal Dewar. Mark Taylor campaigned in 2010 to being a two-term councillor will he keep that promise. He is currently one of two deputy Mayors. If his good friend Watson decides not to run, he’d expect to pick up all of the current Mayor’s support. If Watson seeks re-election, Taylor could be in a jam as he campaigned in 2010 to only be a councillor for two terms.

Diane Deans, a Councillor for the Southern ward of Gloucester Southgate is also conserved a sure thing to run for the Mayor’s chains. She has the needed experience, as she has been a sitting Councillor since 1994. She has had verbal jousts with the Mayor in the past, especially this current term. Deans may see 2018 as her last chance to run for the top job, it could be the run for the Mayor’s chair or retirement for her.

Mayor Jim Watson’s biggest challenge may come from outside council. If Justin Trudeau can fill the position his father did, why can’t Paul Dewar follow his mother? Marion Dewar was Ottawa Mayor from 1978 to 1985 and a councillor from 72 before becoming Mayor. Where Watson would in previous elections be seen as the ‘progressive’ candidate – he’d look like a Larry O’Brien Conservative, if he has to run against Paul Dewar. A successful NDP MP in Ottawa Centre, he would be a dream candidate for progressives seeking greater funding for housing, opioid life saving programs and reducing homelessness in Ottawa.

As the New Year comes we’ll have to wait longer than normal to see who will challenge, who will retire and who will seek another four years. While Mayor Watson has announced he will run again ( https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/the-first-shot-has-been-fired/) all eyes will be on him as the May 1st registration deadline approaches to see if he really meant it or not.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

When did it become legal to do illegal things?

When did it become all right to break the law? When did good intentions become the alibi to commit a crime?

Overdose Prevention Ottawa (OPO) popped up in a park in the Vanier Quarter of Ottawa as a protest to the City’s lack of address in the opioid crisis in the city. The City of Ottawa had been approved for a Safe Injection Site (SIS) and a site in Sandy Hill is being prepared for opening. The OPO was the organizers response to address a need that could not wait until the permanent SIS was open.

The OPO opened without the required permissions – the route the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre completed for the SIS, and it is unlikely they even tried. The politicians and Ottawa Police are playing ping-pong with the issue as calls to the police from area residents are met without any police response. The Police have stated that the owner of the park, the City of Ottawa, must direct the police to take action, clearly there has been no request made from the city. Ottawa By-Law may have been called in but again it is unsure if any tickets were issued. Meanwhile for several hours a day a park, designed for family use, is a spot for illicit drug users.

The opioid crisis is real and needs to be addressed in the serious manner it deserves.

Following the OPO showing up Ottawa Public Health indicated that prior to the opening of the SIS in Sandy Hill, a temporary site would open in the Byward market, not far from where the OPO popped up. Since the OPO pop up site was created to fill a gap until the SIS was open and the prevention of overdose deaths could be addressed immediately, there was every expectation that when the temp site on Clarence St opened we would see OPO fold up.

Nope, they’re still there, without required permissions in the same park that is now is seeing calls from residents to police about addicts on front steps go unanswered.   OPO has indicated they will pop up elsewhere in Ottawa, again without any permits.

What is to happen to the Clarence St. temporary site when the SIS is open? I predict it won’t close. The City, under pressure from OPO will keep it open as a satellite of the Sandy Hill SIS.

When did committing illegal acts become legal and unpunishable?

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can follow me at www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I occasionally post about the little things in life I see and do.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

Confessions of a Casual Commuter Cyclist

179

I am the most casual of casual commuter cyclists. Riding into work, I now find the 20 minute walk too long. I have no idea how long into the fall I will ride and don’t know what my cold temperature threshold will be for my fingers and face. The moment I have to start bundling up to stay warm on the cycle into the office might be the sign I will need that walking is the preferred way to go.

I have been cycling into work for most of the summer now; I credit that to my pocket book. I paid for over $170 for a $49.95 tune up – mainly because my bike is old and in the 15 or so years I have had it, it never received the care or attention it deserved/needed. This year I did and thanks to the good folks at Kunstadt Sports on Bank in the Glebe I was ready for a summer of biking. Because of the tune up I feel a lot safer on my bike.

Liz and I have made good use of the bikes this year, Monday to Friday and on weekends. The only (small) sacrifice I have made is not to make the daily stop into Starbucks as I would if I was walking to the office. I have avoided so far (knock on wood) getting stuck in a rain storm, colliding with another bike and I have stayed clear of scratching any cars whether it was my fault or theirs.

Generally I am happy with being able to get around the City of Ottawa on my bike. I haven’t had to worry about cars too much as drivers are as polite to me as I cycle as I am to other cyclists when I am driving. The path system is good, there a missing links and from what I can see Ottawa is trying to make the connections. Some intersections are worrisome; the Wellington St. /Sussex Ave. /Mackenzie Ave. at the Chateau Laurier is nerve rattling. We have made it through there a few times, but seeing how try not to get trapped in that area does make you think twice. There is some confusion in the approach the new lanes along Mackenzie Avenue on the west side of the US Embassy, especially as you come from the National Art Gallery of Canada. I still don’t feel at ease on the O’Connor dual lane, I would have preferred lanes that went with the flow of traffic – south on O’Connor and North on Metcalfe St. or Kent St. These examples aside, Ottawa has been doing a good job.

I am not perfect as a cyclist, however as a driver (of a car) I have a good sense of rules and the reason they need to be followed. Being a good and courteous driver makes for a good and courteous cyclist. I have noticed a few things while in the saddle – these are just observations of how cyclists can do their part to stay alive.

Use hand signals correctly. I recently learned that cyclists can indicate turning right by sticking out their right arm. I still use the left arm method to show I am turning right. On the left and right arm pointing signals I have seen too many cyclists pointing to the ground – is that their way of telling me you are turning right or look out for a pothole? Come on, if you are going to indicate turns that way, do it with conviction! Point with pride!

Follow the traffic lights. Not watching the lights is becoming a problem on the O’Connor Street lanes. Cyclists are running reds, not stale green lights but RED lights! This morning at Laurier and O’Connor an incident was avoided when alert cyclists saw the red light running biker before they headed west on Laurier. If that had been a car, there would have been bike bells ringing and obscene hand gestures and yelling at the car, but we don’t care if a cyclist runs a red?

How about that distracted driving law? We don’t allow drivers to wear ear pods and headphones when driving? Somehow this is okay for cyclists? And one armed cyclists travel around the city because the other hand is holding the phone? The same “put the phone away out of sight” should apply as a safety measure for cyclists as well as motorists. Pulling over to the side to check for a missed call or waiting for a text/email should be the rule for cyclists as it is for motorists.

Finally, why the race on Laurier? I am passed everyday by other cyclists on the Laurier bike lane. What’s the rush? The lanes are wide enough to pass, but sometimes the speed they pass me at is incredible. Is there a speed limit for travelling on city bike lanes? I suspect, serious bike commuters can’t wait for cooler weather when casual commuters me abandon the bikes for pounding the pavement.

Since my days on the old and long forgotten Roads and Cycling Advisory Committee for the City of Ottawa, the bike path network has improved a great deal. The city and NCC are doing their part to make cycling safe and accessible for more casual cyclists and turning them to being more serious about using their bikes to get around. Is it time for cyclists themselves to call out others who they see as being unknowingly reckless or ignorant when cycling in the city?

p.s. don’t  get me going about parents that make their kids wear a helmet cycling when they don’t.

 

 

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.